Guy Hamilton-Smith is a legal fellow with the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a contributing writer for The Appeal and Slate, a 2019 JustLeadershipUSA fellow, and a member of Law & Society’s division on Punishment & Society. His work focuses on sexual violence prevention policy, and civil rights impact litigation with respect to public sex offense registration schemes, housing banishment laws, and indefinite confinement of people deemed sexually dangerous. He has written and presented for a variety of audiences, and appeared as an expert in outlets such as Rolling Stone and NPR.
Many have considered the conversation sparked by #MeToo as a necessary and overdue interrogation of not only the spectre of common sexual harms in American society, but also the inadequacy of traditional mechanisms of accountability. Against this backdrop, smaller-scale flashpoints have erupted over perceived inadequacy of punishment, such as the successful campaign to recall California judge Aaron Persky from the bench over what many saw as leniency in the widely-publicized case of People v. Turner. This paper analyzes the complex relationship between #MeToo and the carceral state. In arguably the most punitive nation on the planet—particularly when considering the breadth and scope of public postconviction registries—I argue that seeking to address broad and systemic failures of accountability by advocating for more severe punishment
paradoxically undermines the larger goals of #MeToo to the extent that those goals are concerned with effectively challenging systems that
perpetuate sexual harms. An approach that harmonizes efforts to prevent sexual harms and bring those who cause harm to account without
endorsement of carceral politics is explored.